What makes people happy? This is a difficult question, particularly when one considers that there is a growing trend in some policy circles to emphasise happiness as a goal, instead of concentrating efforts on making people richer. The BBC even broadcast a series looking at the new science of happiness.
So, if happiness is entering the realms of scientific research and policy-making, we have to determine how we can measure happiness, or even trying to determine if such thing is possible. Do you simply ask people? Organise surveys? Measure happy thoughts?
The Happy Planet Index attempts to do just that. While it doesn't measure absolute happiness, it "shows the relative efficiency with which nations convert the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens". The top countries on the list are:
3 Costa Rica
Vanuatu? This is a country famous for being a tax haven, hosting KaZaA and being the online pharmacy capital of the world. Internet hosting haven equals happiness? Well, maybe. Costa Rica is number three, and we are a gambling website hub.
Of course, I'm a bit depressed about these news, because while all my fellow Costa Ricans are having a happy time, I'm stuck in cold Edinburgh.